September 16, 2015

Getty Research Institute Acquires Maurice Tuchman Archive

The legendary Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator has donated his papers spanning 1950-2000
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Amy Hood
Getty Communications
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Maurice Tuchman and Henry Hopkins, former director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, during installation of American Sculpture of the Sixties, 1967 with David Smith (Untitled, 1962-63), and Reuben Nakian (Goddess of the Golden Thighs, 1964-65). Art © The Estate of David Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

LOS ANGELES – The Getty Research Institute announced today the acquisition of the archive of notable curator Maurice Tuchman (American, b. 1936). Tuchman was the first full-time curator of modern art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 1964 to 1994 and mounted numerous groundbreaking and memorable exhibitions there, including the historic Art and Technology program.

“The Getty Research Institute has amassed an unparalleled collection of records and scholarly resources related to American post-war art, especially the previously understudied contemporary art scene of Los Angeles in the late 20th century,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute. “Maurice Tuchman is a standout figure in the recent history of modern art in Los Angeles and beyond and his influence is unquestionably evident to this day. We are grateful to Mr. Tuchman for this extraordinary gift.”

The Maurice Tuchman papers document three decades of exhibitions and projects at LACMA and include correspondence, press clippings, photography, audiovisual recordings, publications, personal papers and even his appointment books from the beginning of his tenure at LACMA until the 1980s. Among the publications in the archive are rare artist publications such as Ilya Kabakov’s Red Wagon and the 1970s New York artists’ magazine Avalanche. Artists such as Edward Kienholz, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, and R. B. Kitaj figure prominently in these materials.

“Looking at the scope of Tuchman’s career – his triumphs, his controversies, his experiments – is inspiring. Tuchman helped to define the reputation of LA’s preeminent art museum in the late 20th century and by extension LA’s international standing in the art world,” said John Tain, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art at the GRI. “His work with artists, curators, dealers, collectors, and patrons connects with many research projects and other archives at the GRI. Access to this sweeping record of Tuchman’s curatorial practice will be a crucial resource for any researcher investigating post-war art, the history of museums in Southern California, and individual artists from Southern California.”

Tuchman received his master’s degree in art history from Columbia University, studying under Meyer Schapiro while counting artist Donald Judd, art critic Barbara Rose, and former MoMA director William Rubin as fellow students. He moved from New York to Los Angeles 1964 when he began his career at LACMA.

The many LACMA exhibitions Tuchman curated or co-curated include New York School: the First Generation (1965); Edward Kienholz (1966), American Sculpture of the Sixties (1967), The Avant-Garde in Russia, 1910-30: New Perspectives (1980), The Spiritual in Art (1986), and Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art (1992). He is most widely celebrated for his instigation of the Art and Technology program, which paired artists with technology companies in Southern California from 1966 to 1971 and the related exhibition (1971) and for the popular exhibition Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties (1981).

Tuchman’s 30-year tenure at LACMA was occasionally marked by tumult, including charges of sexism in the 1980s regarding the artist selections for two of his exhibitions – Art and Technology and Art in Los Angeles. However, Tuchman’s legacy can be seen in the permanent collection that he helped establish, and also in the curators who he brought on, including Jane Livingston, Stephanie Barron, Howard Fox, and Carol Eliel. Tuchman has also written and edited dozens of exhibition catalogues, including the catalogue raisonné for Russian painter Chaïm Soutine

In 2014 LACMA created the Art + Technology Lab, inspired by Tuchman’s Art and Technology initiative. The new program supports artist experiments with emerging technology through grants, in-kind support, and facilities at the museum to develop prototypes.

"I am quite honored that my papers are joining those of esteemed colleagues such as Harald Szeemann, Barbara Rose, Lawrence Alloway, and Henry Hopkins, all of whom I have had the pleasure to work with,” said Tuchman. “It is fantastic that the Getty Research Institute is taking steps to ensure that future scholars will be able to access the legacy of the sixties and seventies."

Once the archive is catalogued it will be available to researchers through the Getty Research Library. Researchers at the GRI will find connections in his papers with the GRI holdings of Tuchman’s contemporaries, including Lawrence Alloway, Betty Asher, Henry Hopkins, Barbara Rose, as well as archives of many artists and curators active in the era.

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.

The Getty Research Institute is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It serves education in the broadest sense by increasing knowledge and understanding about art and its history through advanced research. The Research Institute provides intellectual leadership through its research, exhibition, and publication programs and provides service to a wide range of scholars worldwide through residencies, fellowships, online resources, and a Research Library. The Research Library—housed in the 201,000-square-foot Research Institute building designed by Richard Meier—is one of the largest art and architecture libraries in the world. The general library collections (secondary sources) include almost 900,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogues encompassing the history of Western art and related fields in the humanities. The Research Library’s special collections include rare books, artists’ journals, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, photographs, and archival materials.

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